Living here in the shadow of our nation’s great Capitol in this fine Federal City, my neighbors and I enjoy the peace and serenity of a tightly enforced “no-fly” zone. By “peace” and “serenity” I mean that we are under near-constant assault by helicopters everywhere whapping just over our rooftops.
Sometimes they are orange, sometimes green, sometimes they are blue with an orange stripe. And, yes, sometimes they are even actual black helicopters flying just overhead. I have even seen them ride over my little house with a guy tricked out in tactical gear hanging out the door holding a machine gun, scanning the neighborhood as if searching for someone to shoot.
This also being a “gun-free zone,” we are mostly disarmed and defenseless. On one particularly busy day earlier this month, I counted 42 flyovers buzzing Capitol Hill rooftops.
They disturb dinner, rattle dishes and windows, shake pictures off the wall, startle children awake from naps and make it impossible to talk on the telephone. They fly in great yawning arcs across the neighborhood before circling back to fly right back overhead. They are not going anywhere. Just circling aimlessly overhead. Because they can.
The near-constant drone thunders deep into your spine. It is like a boot always just starting to exert pressure on the back of your neck. I understand why people living in a place like Iraq or Afghanistan seethe at being occupied.
In most of America, this would not last long. Too many guns. People would get tired of the constant whapping at their rooftops, the endless fading and mounting noise. Or, somebody would get drunk and test his aim.
There is a good lesson here these days with so many politicians making political hay out of 20 young children and six educators gunned down in an elementary school last month. They want to use that horror to advance their own political agenda of disarming law-abiding citizens.
But it is important to remember that while they are talking about disarming you and me, they are not talking about disarming themselves. They will still be coddled in their fortresses. The closer you get to the Capitol, the more armed guards there are. Up close, there are bombproof guard shacks, literally, on every street corner. Squads of machine-gun carrying guards dot the magnificent marble buildingscape at all times.
Leaders in Congress ride around with escorts of huge armed men. Is that because what they do every day is more dangerous than what you and I do every day? Is that because their safety is more important than our safety? Or is it because they have figured out a way for suckers like you and me to pay for their security and so they don’t much care anymore about ours?
When a daring reporter last week confronted New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to ask whether he would consider disarming the battalion of security surrounding him, Mr. Bloomberg quickly lied and promised to get right back to him. He didn’t, of course.
And then his armed guards accosted the reporter and demanded his personal information and then followed him down the street. Are you terrified yet?
There’s a petition going around that seeks to disband the Secret Service that protects the president and his family and replace it with people carrying signs that say “Gun-free zone” like you see around schools. Of course, even if the petition gets the required number of signatures, the White House will not take the recommendation seriously. Nor should it.
And the same should be said for any proposal that undermines citizens’ rights to protect themselves.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.